Marijuana Is At Last Going Legal in the Bay State 


How difficult is it to put up a marijuana dispensary and plantation in Massachusetts? If you think it’s going to be a cinch, you’re going to be surprised at what the Massachusetts Department of Public Health  is going through.

However, the State of Massachusetts has at last given a go signal to a company to grow marijuana and use it for medicinal purposes. Alternative Therapies Group Inc. is the first business entity to receive permission to operate a dispensary in the state which is located at 50 Grove St., Salem. The plantation is to be at 10 Industrial Way, Amesbury.

Don’t get your hopes too high though. The leaves will not be available for months to come and it will take a quarter of a year to grow the seeds. Afterwards, the company will still have to face additional inquiries such as plant examinations and reviews on their mode of transporting the products.

“This is an exciting first step,” said Nichole Snow, deputy director of Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, which supports access to medical marijuana. “I am overwhelmed with joy. . . . It means that myself as a patient and other patients will have safe access to their much-needed medication.”

Snow, a resident of Salem, is one of those hoping to use the marijuana to treat the injuries she suffered from several car accidents that makes her go through muscle spasms and pain.

There were some problems concerning the methods used by companies who were supposed to check the 100 applicants that led to the delay in the processing of the dispensary accreditation.

The problems included a lack of time on the part of the contractor doing the application checks and thorough background checks. One company was even unable to get wind of the news that a couple who were supposed to operate several clinics had been disenfranchised already in Colorado for committing several violations.

When the first 20 applicants were chosen late last January, the public health department discovered that some of them had help from politicians, lobbyists, and previous employees working with public health; all situations which could lead to a conflict of interests.

The department of health deemed it necessary to postpone accreditation due to several lawsuits, more than 2 dozens to be exact, that were raised against it.

The go signal means that everything has been finally ironed out and that the state is now going forward as planned.

“Providing safe patient access is a priority . . . and we are proud to take this important step forward,” Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz said in a statement. “Selecting dispensaries that meet our high standards takes time, but ensuring a launch of this new industry the right way for the people of Massachusetts is a top priority.”

ATG’s location was visited and evaluated by state authorities, including the floor plans, the surety aspect, and the system of cultivation, according to health department sources.

“Over the past two years, we have undertaken a comprehensive process to ensure the highest standards of public safety and patient access are met,” said Karen van Unen, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Program. “We are looking forward to continued progress as more dispensaries are approved over the coming months.”

Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll said that ATG representatives “went out of their way to meet with neighbors, officials, and others in Salem, to introduce themselves and explain what they will be doing. . . . Salem has long been a progressive, forward-thinking, and open-minded community, and we look forward to ATG starting operation and providing yet another critical medical choice to patients for the entire North Shore.”

Amesbury Mayor Ken Gray also welcomed ATG. “I look forward to seeing ATG develop as a positive contributor to the Amesbury community,” he said in a statement.



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